May 23, 2020

ABC Allows Licensees to Expand their Footprint

Hello Friends, 

I hope you are all safe and well. 

ABC licensees looking for ways to maintain social distancing protocols while not losing most of their patron capacity just received some good news: 

The Alcoholic Beverage Control recently announced a new round of temporary relief measures intended to support the restaurant industry. In this latest round, the Department created a new permit called ‘COVID-19 Temporary Catering Authorization’ that will permit restaurants in counties that allow on-site dining to expand their ABC licenses into adjacent areas under their control. Unlike the existing ABC procedure to enlarge a licensee’s footprint, which could take months, this authorization will take effect immediately upon submitting an application and paying a $100 fee to the Department. 

To obtain this authorization, these areas must be: 

1) Adjacent to the licensed premises and easily accessible to patrons and staff;

2) Under the control of the licensee by way of a lease agreement, permit, or some other form of verification;

3) Used for patron dining and not primarily as a lounge or beer garden.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Indoor areas that are accessible from within an existing licensed premise- through a door or some other means;
  • Outdoor areas that are accessible from the licensed premises- like an open backyard space;
  • Parking lots that are adjacent to the licensed premises and are bounded or delineated by railings or some other means (a physical barrier is recommended);
  • Sidewalks and other public thoroughfares that are adjacent to the licensed premises and are bounded or delineated by railings or some other means (a physical barrier is recommended)
  • Areas shared with other licensees as long as both agree to share responsibility; 

All other ABC rules and regulations will remain in place and apply to these new areas as they would at a licensee’s existing premises. The Department also retains the right to impose additional conditions if these approvals create problems for law enforcement. 

Although the ABC will approve expansions immediately upon the submittal of an application and payment of a fee, these approvals do not supersede local ordinances. As such, utilization of this approval may run contrary to local regulations. We expect municipalities to react quickly and establish their own set of protocols, but that may take several days or weeks. 

Bars may also apply for this new permit if they contract with a legitimate meal provider and serve bona fide meals in conjunction with alcoholic beverages. Prepackaged food like sandwiches, salads, or snacks don’t constitute a meal. 

Once again, the ‘COVID-19 Temporary Catering Authorization’ only applies to Counties that have lifted stay at home orders and permitted restaurants to offer dine-in service. 

If you have questions or would like to apply for this authorization, please contact Manny Diaz at

Stay safe and healthy. We hope to see you soon!

Manny Diaz,
Principal Planner &

Eddie Navarrette